(picture above is my parents’ dog, Izzie, a red Doberman)
From the April 2, 2007, New York Times:
Home Cooking for Pets Is Suddenly Not So Odd
By ANDREW ADAM NEWMAN
A month ago, the thought of preparing home-cooked meals for a dog or cat might have seemed obsessive even for the most devoted pet lovers.
But with tainted pet food being blamed for at least 16 pet deaths — and some veterinarians predicting hundreds more to follow — preparing lamb stew for the family pet suddenly sounds sensible to at least a few more people.
So it is no surprise, perhaps, that cookbooks for dogs and cats are enjoying an increase in sales.
Continue reading for the rest of the article, discussion and book listings…
According to Nielsen BookScan, for the week that ended March 25, after Menu Foods recalled more than 60 million cans of pet food packaged under numerous name brands and store brands, “The Good Food Cookbook for Dogs” sold 194 copies, compared with 42 the previous week. Other books with even more modest sales totals also showed sharp increases over the previous week: “Real Food for Dogs” sold 66 copies, up from 23, for example, and “Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diet” sold 34, up from 8.
“Obviously people got a scare with what was going on about buying dog food, so they’re looking for an alternative,” said Ken Fund, president of Quarry Books, publisher of “The Good Food Cookbook for Dogs.”
Like other pet cookbooks, it sold out on Amazon, which is warning shoppers that they face waits as long as six weeks before their books ship.
The pet food scare started on March 19, when Menu Foods recalled 60 million cans of food, including some varieties by major brands including Iams, Nestlé Purina PetCare and Hills Pet Nutrition, after several animals died after eating Menu pet foods in taste tests.
The Food and Drug Administration said yesterday that melamine, a chemical used in both plastic cutlery and fertilizer, had been found in wheat gluten used in the pet food. The F.D.A. disputed a report just two days earlier by the New York State Food Laboratory that aminopterin, a rat poison, was to blame for the deaths; the F.D.A. found no traces of the rat poison.
Yesterday, Del Monte Foods became the fourth pet food manufacture to recall some products from United States retailers after the F.D.A. said that company also had received tainted wheat gluten.
Most recipes in the books differ somewhat from human fare. Take, for example, the “Better Food for Dogs” presentation of Barbecued Hamburgers: “Cut burgers and buns into bite-size pieces. In a serving bowl, combine burgers, buns, tomato, lettuce, oil, potassium chloride and supplements. Mix thoroughly.” (None of the recipes suggest garnishes or wine pairings.)
Pet owners, meanwhile, are seeking out other books. Sales of “Dr. Pitcairn’s New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats,” which is not a cookbook but includes some recipes, climbed to 413, more than twice the number of the week preceding the recall.
And sales nearly tripled, from 33 to 92, for an ominously titled exposé of the pet-food industry, “Food Pets Die For,” first published in 1997.
Dr. Louise Murray, director of medicine at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New York, feeds her own cats commercial food, but said, “There’s nothing wrong with a balanced home-cooked diet, but it’s crucial that a vet nutritionist is involved.” (The Web site www.petdiets.com offers such guidance.)
But she urged caution with cats. Whereas dogs, like humans, are omnivores, she said, “cats are strict carnivores and it’s impossible to balance a cat’s diet without the help of a nutritionist because they are susceptible to nutritional deficiencies.”
Arden Moore, author of “Real Food for Dogs,” said some pet owners might cook for their pets only temporarily. “The bottom line is we want our pets safe, and it’s something you can give them in this transition period when there are still more questions than answers,” she said.
Her recipes are formulated to be toothsome for both quadruped and cook. When she makes the Canine Casserole (brown rice, ground chuck, carrots, broccoli and garlic) and Marvelous Mutt Meatballs (ground beef, Cheddar cheese, shredded carrots, bread crumbs, egg, garlic powder and tomato paste) for her dogs, Chipper and Cleo, she digs in, too. And the Leap for Liver? “They love it, but for me, no thanks. I’m not a big fan of beef liver.”
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